Malaysian Businesses Unite to End AIDS

Malaysian Businesses Unite to End AIDS

KUALA LUMPUR, 30 August 2016 – Key businesses and corporations committed to the AIDS response in Malaysia were acknowledged at the Malaysian Business Consortium on HIV and AIDS (MBCH) Forum jointly organised by the Malaysian AIDS Council and Malaysian AIDS Foundation.
The MBCH, a programme under the Malaysian AIDS Foundation, serves as a platform for businesses to share and exchange HIV and AIDS information, best practices and key learning experiences, as well as a warehouse for pooling of HIV and AIDS resources. Its mission is guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Launched by Omar Bin Mat Piah, Deputy Director General (Occupational Safety), Department of Occupational Safety and Health Malaysia, Ministry of Human Resources, the MBCH Forum introduced employers to inspired corporate social responsibility and ethical and responsible HIV and AIDS workplace management policy frameworks. It also supported the Department’s initiative to strengthen its commitment to safe and healthy workplaces based on objectives under the Occupational Safety and Health Master Plan (OSH-MP) 2016 – 2020 that was recently launched by Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak.

Omar Bin Mat Piah, Deputy Director General (Occupational Safety), Department of Occupational Safety and Health Malaysia, Ministry of Human Resources (centre); Bakhtiar Talhah, President, Malaysian AIDS Council and Trustee, Malaysian AIDS Foundation (third from right); and Steve Kraus, Director, Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, UNAIDS (third from left) celebrate corporate members of the Malaysian Business Consortium on HIV and AIDS in a certificate presentation ceremony during the launch of the MBCH Forum 2016. Photo © 2016 Malaysian AIDS Council & Malaysian AIDS Foundation.
“Smart responsible businesses are founded on principles and values that respect the rights and dignity of their employees, including those who are living with HIV,” said Professor Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Chairman of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation.
Bakhtiar Talhah, President of the Malaysian AIDS Council and Trustee of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation remarked, “Despite widespread awareness and knowledge of HIV and AIDS and mounting evidence of the positive effect of antiretroviral treatment on improving social functioning and productivity, employees living with HIV continue to face discrimination at the workplace. We are deeply concerned over the growing number of incident reports that we have collected over the past few years involving dismissal or termination of employment based on HIV status.”
“As someone living with HIV, the prospect of employment can often be devastating. Will I need to disclose my HIV status to my employer? Will I be accepted in the workplace? Will I be protected from discrimination?”
Currently, there is no compulsion to have a HIV and AIDS policy at the workplace, although businesses are encouraged to adopt the Code of Practice on Prevention and Management of HIV and AIDS at the Workplace developed by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health Malaysia. This document underscores the value of having HIV and AIDS education at the workplace and, more importantly, a non-judgmental and non-discriminatory work environment.
“Discrimination has no place in the business sector and in our society. Our goal – through the MBCH and our partnership with the Department of Occupational Safety and Health Malaysia – is to create as many safe spaces as possible for employees and professionals living with HIV to thrive and succeed,” he noted further.
Another key component of the business sector’s response to HIV and AIDS through the MBCH is corporate social responsibility.
Leading the corporate social responsibility initiative towards ending AIDS and spearheading the work in revitalising the MBCH is Yayasan Sime Darby, the primary driver of Sime Darby’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Yayasan Sime Darby (Sime Darby Foundation) funds the activities related to MBCH under its HIV Leadership and Advocacy Grant awarded to the Malaysian AIDS Council in 2013. Over the past three years, the Foundation has committed over RM 2.95 million to several HIV and AIDS projects under the Malaysian AIDS Council and Malaysian AIDS Foundation as well as with Partner Organisations. Most notable is the PAL Scheme, a medicine assistance scheme that provides second line antiretroviral treatment to more than 100 underprivileged Malaysians living with HIV.
“We have long recognised the role and influence of businesses on the health and welfare of a community,” said Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin, Chief Executive Officer of Yayasan Sime Darby.
“Businesses – particularly those in high-burden settings – have a responsibility to the community in which they operate to ensure that negative socio-health impacts, such as HIV and AIDS are effectively addressed. Through the efforts with our partners the Malaysian AIDS Council and Malaysian AIDS Foundation, we hope to encourage more businesses to join the MBCH and contribute towards helping people living with HIV and, ultimately, ending AIDS by 2030,” she added.
Delegates attending the launch of the Malaysian Business Consortium on HIV and AIDS Forum 2016. Photo © 2016 Malaysian AIDS Council & Malaysian AIDS Foundation.

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